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Air Force sweeps Cignal for title

Air Force bucked some pre-game distractions and Cignal’s gritty stand in the third set, hacking out a 25-19, 25-17, 28-26 victory yesterday to clinch the Spikers’ Turf Season 2 Open Conference crown at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

Fauzi Ismail and Howard Mojica, rookie recruits from National U and Emilio Aguinaldo, respectively, redeemed themselves from pre-game gaffes as they combined for 28 hits to power the Jet Spikers to the 75-minute victory and the championship via sweep of their best-of-three series.

Air Force also took Game One, 25-19, 25-16, 25-19, last July 4 before the league took a break to give way to the FIBA Manila OQT staging.

The victory, Air Force’s first championship in the league, also atoned for its heartbreaking defeat to the same Cignal side in last year’s Reinforced Conference where the Jet Spikers took Game One only to lose the last two to the resurgent HD Spikers.

“We were determined to bring back men’s volley glory to Air Force,” said Air Force coach Rhovyl Verayo, whose counterparts are also vying for the women’s crown in the Shakey’s V-League.

But Verayo rued his prized wards’ slip-up early in the match.

“Fauzi came in late, saying he was caught in traffic while Howard left his uniform at Villamor and I had to have someone get it for him,” said Verayo.

He also said setter Jessie Lopez suffered cramps late in the second set.

“I was forced to call a time-out when we were up 24-17 in the second set because he (Lopez) was cramping and I had to replace him with Pitrys (de Ocampo),” said Verayo.

Lopez still wound up dishing out a game-best 31 excellent points while Jeffrey Malabanan, the other leader of the team, chipped in 10 markers.